PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN
The Wizard of Oz is a classic movie that I have been watching since as far back as I can remember. As a child, I very much wanted the Wizard to be real and impressive and the answer to all the needs of the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow and Dorothy and I was disappointed when Toto discovered that all the Wizard’s power was nothing but smoke and mirrors, posturing and braggadocio. They trusted him and he let them down.
Recently, I was talking to one of my sons about the church he grew up in and the feelings he had about the possibility that some of the leadership was corrupt. It’s never easy to see someone you put on a pedestal turn out to be faulty, let alone corrupt. And it is so much more disappointing if you are talking about spiritual leadership.
My own personal experience has been that if you just attend church once a week, eat at the potluck and then head home for your Sabbath nap, you will like be a happy church member, unaware of power struggles and problems, stumbling blocks and sins among the servants of God.
However, if you dig in and serve – if you see behind the curtain – you are going to find that all humans, even the pastor, even the other leadership, even your fellow servants, even you have sin in our lives. If you get a look behind the curtain you might just see folks fighting pride and human nature and temptation and a variety of sins that trip us all up. In that case, I have some advice for you:
“Pay no attention to” the man/men/women behind the curtain. Instead, keep your eyes focused on the God behind the veil.
What I mean by that is that the leadership of your congregation are not to be your source of faith. Church leaders and fellow brethren can be a source of inspiration and examples of service and love. We should each strive to be that for each other. But, ultimately, we are not meant to put our hope in any other human being.
One of the great benefits provided by the sacrifice of Jesus was the removal of the veil that partitioned man off from direct contact with God. We read about that in Mark 15:37-38 [ESV] And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
2 Corinthians 12-16 expounds upon the glorious benefit of seeing behind that veil: Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. [ESV]
Whereas the Israelites in general could not go into the Holy of Holies in the temple at all and the High Priest alone was the only one allowed in and then only once per year [see Hebrews 9:1-10], Jesus changed all that, entering Himself into the most Holy place and through His sacrifice, opening the way for us to go there in prayer whenever we want.
God is open to us. He wants us to come into the Most Holy Place – to meet with and learn about Him – to get a glimpse into the character of God. Our God is no longer behind the curtain and we will find no flaws in discovering His true nature. When we look behind the curtain that was once there, to see our Father God, we see perfect love. We see forgiveness and hope. We see perfect, righteous judgment. We see mercy that is renewed daily.
There is no veil to separate us from God the Father, who desires our presence even more that we in our most needy times desire to be there with Him. Our human minds cannot fathom all the wonderful things about God, but He is not hidden from us at all.
There is no Wizard of Oz to grant your desires for a heart, courage, knowledge or a home. But behind the veil we are welcomed into God’s own heart and receive a heart of flesh to replace our hearts of stone [Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26]. We find the courage to wait on the Lord and to face trial and trouble. [See Psalm 27:14; 31:24; 2 Corinthians 5:6, 8]. We find real knowledge and understanding that delivers us from living a life of ignorance and sin. [See Proverbs 11:19 and 2 Peter 1:2-6]
And we find a place to call home for all eternity with the Father God. John 14:2-3 [NIV] My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
All this wonder is waiting for us in the presence of the Lord, now that we can see behind the veil.
Pay no attention to the men and women behind the curtain. Let’s fix our eyes on the real giver of every good and perfect gift – the real source of heart, courage, knowledge and a home. Let’s pay attention to the God who is no longer behind the veil.
I’d love to hear your thoughts too. Write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.